Problematic Alcohol Use and Acute Intoxication Predict Anger-Related Attentional Biases: A Test of the Alcohol Myopia Theory


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Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated a significant association between alcohol and aggression. However, the precise mechanisms underlying this relationship have yet to be fully elucidated. In the present study, we examined alcohol’s effects on an attentional bias toward aggressogenic cues as the first step in a possible mediation model of alcohol-facilitated intimate partner aggression. More specifically, we tested an interactive effect of problematic alcohol use and acute alcohol intoxication on an attentional bias toward anger words. Participants in this study were 249 male and female heavy drinkers from the community with a history of past-year intimate partner aggression perpetration who participated in an alcohol-administration laboratory study assessing the effect of alcohol intoxication on cognitive biases. Multiple linear regression was used to test the proposed moderation model. Acute alcohol intoxication moderated the effect of problematic alcohol use on an attentional bias toward anger, with this effect being stronger for individuals in the alcohol compared to no-alcohol control condition. These findings suggest that problematic drinkers may be more likely to attend to aggressogenic stimuli while acutely intoxicated, relative to when they are sober.

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